Scandals, reckless behavior should not mar Rutgers reputation
Rutgers has been delivering successful students into the world ever since 1766. This school has pushed out famous actors, triumphant athletes, accomplished scientists and thousands of other notable people. But in recent years, Rutgers has been given a bad reputation for things other than its academics. New Brunswick and Piscataway have housed some of the greatest minds the nation has ever seen, and anyone who is currently enrolled at Rutgers, or has graduated from here, will advocate this. So it only seems unfair to have every news source in the tri-state area, and beyond, refer to us as something else.
Something every Rutgers student has is an amazing sense of pride for his or her University. This is true whether we like to admit it or not. It’s a palpable feeling at football games when we chant, involvement fairs when we all come together and in class when we put all our attention into our studies. Even though more than 40,000 students will admit to hating the registration system or having to step foot on a Rutgers bus, we are all proud to sport our scarlet Rs. So when we are asked, “Where do you go to school?” and the response of “Rutgers University” generates a cringe on another person’s face, it is downright unfair. Why should I have to worry about the response others might have when they hear that I am a student at this world-renowned institution? Because that is exactly what Rutgers is, a high-ranked university listed amongst schools like Columbia and Harvard University. It is truly upsetting to have that recognition be downgraded because of recent mishaps that the other 39,000 students had no part in.
With more than 800,000 hits on Google News for Rutgers University, the first two pages show only reports of all of the wrongs some students have committed in the past and present. I’m sure everyone has heard about the recent arrests and suspensions of five Rutgers football players and the scandal involving head football coach Kyle Flood, so much so that I probably don’t have to elaborate any more on those stories because every man, woman and child has heard about it. Any time I open Facebook or Twitter — or even the news — I am bombarded with articles and stories revolving around the University and the hardships we are going through right now. I see criticisms coming from students that do not even attend Rutgers. The first page of articles on Google is almost solely revolving around those recent incidents, “the horrors” and “long list of problems for the Scarlet Knights.” The bad has indubitably outweighed all of the good. There have been robberies, sexual violence, cyberbullying and crimes, but these are things that are bound to happen in a school that has a population as big as a small state, and this is something people need to begin to understand. There is always going to be a batch of bad eggs amongst such a large coop. Years now, Rutgers has been receiving media attention for all of the wrong reasons, but when will people get to hear about all of the good we have done?
The Class of 2019 is the largest and most diverse class the school has ever seen. That’s something to be proud of, right? More and more people want to come here knowing it is one of the premier public universities of New Jersey. We played in the very first collegiate football game and won! ABC and ESPN would be nothing if we hadn’t put together that game against Princeton. We play in Division I athletic leagues and study with Division I minds. We have the infamous grease trucks, which have been featured on the Food Network and all over magazines and TV. These are just four fun, notable attractions RU has to offer. This year, there has been a pledge taken by students and faculty against bullying and harassment, something that deserves more attention than the bad choices of some football players. Other things deserving of attention could be to a Rutgers professor who has been recognized for her contribution in the field of DNA repair, or the $6 million given to Rutgers to expand pharmaceutical research. It’s upsetting when students have to defend their university because the media portrays Rutgers so terribly. Rutgers has more to offer students than many other colleges and universities, and maybe that’s something the media should know about. There are more important things audiences should start to learn about us Scarlet Knights.
Epatia Lilikas is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in English and economics. Her column “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Thursdays.